Improved Disinfection Process Aims to Reduce Hospital-Acquired Infections

Nurse-led initiative focuses on workstations on wheels

On any given day, approximately one in 25 hospital patients has at least one healthcare-associated infection (HAI), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Healthcare professionals can reduce the risk of HAIs by taking steps to prevent them, including hand hygiene compliance. But hand hygiene is not enough. The Nursing Technology Shared Governance Council at Cleveland Clinic’s main campus launched an initiative in May 2015 to focus on proper disinfection of , which can harbor germs.

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The project began when Katherine Sibila, BSN, RN, was rounding on inpatient medical-surgical units and observed the movement of staff and equipment in and out of patient rooms. “While the clinical staff was performing hand hygiene, that didn’t take into consideration the technology equipment they touched with their hands before they moved into another room,” says Sibila, a nurse liaison for Nursing Informatics at Cleveland Clinic.

Disinfection initiative has two simple steps


Katherine Sibila, BSN, RN

To improve disinfection of WOWs and educate nurses on the disinfection process, Sibila and other members of the Nursing Technology Shared Governance Council instituted the “Wipe Off @ Handoff” workstations on wheels disinfection initiative. While some equipment had a specific cleaning process in place, such as glucometers and smart pumps, WOWs did not. The council surmised this might be due to inconsistent standards of cleaning equipment, unclear expectations on who was responsible for cleaning WOWs and a lack of specific manufacturer cleaning recommendations.

The council piloted the Wipe Off @ Handoff project on a bariatric unit. They partnered with Lisa Stempak, MD, a laboratory fellow and pathologist at Cleveland Clinic. She randomly swabbed keyboards and other WOW surfaces, then grew microorganism cultures and examined the growth after 72 hours. Next, Sibila and other members of the Shared Governance Council surveyed nurses and patient care nursing assistants (PCNAs) on the bariatric unit about the disinfecting process for WOWs. Only 11 percent were aware of the process.

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Throughout the summer of 2015, Sibila and her peers educated nurses and PCNAs on the three-minute WOW disinfection process developed by the Shared Governance Council. “At least twice a day there is handoff communication being done at the bedside with an RN or PCNA,” says Sibila. “That’s the most opportune time to take care of disinfecting WOWs.” During handoff, nursing staff were asked to follow the simple two-part cleaning procedure:

  1. Wipe the keyboard, mouse, scanner and work surface with a Super Sani-cloth® for one minute.
  2. Allow the WOWs to dry for two minutes using the Super Sani-cloth manufacturer’s directions that “bugs don’t die until it’s dry.”

“The nurses were all on board, so it was an easy education process,” says Sibila.

The results can have a big impact

Six weeks after implementing the disinfection program, Sibila’s team collected post-education swabs and surveyed nurses and PCNAs. The microorganism cultures showed decreased growth, and nursing staff’s awareness of the disinfection process increased 89 percent.

The Wipe Off @ Handoff initiative has since been rolled out to other units within Cleveland Clinic’s Digestive Disease Institute. The Nursing Technology Shared Governance Council also is partnering with Environmental Services to educate its staff on the disinfection process. In addition, the council is currently analyzing HAI data provided by the Office of Nursing Quality and Practice to see if the initiative is having a positive impact.

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“It’s all about keeping our patients safe and minimizing the potential for infection,” says Sibila. “We know that hospital-acquired infections affect a lot of people and cost hospitals a lot of money. With this awareness, it just makes sense to adopt prevention measures.”

Photo Credit ©Russell Lee